Open Enrollment - When Work Feels Anything But

by Hannah Robinson 


This Open Enrollment period will be like none other—said benefits specialists back in 2020. They were anticipating the new challenges a virtual OE was going to present. It might be tempting to think you’re out of the water, as companies return tentatively to in-person work, but it’s that time again and it will do you good to adjust again for a completely novel OE.  


It’s no surprise employees are often overwhelmed by this yearly period; it has always been a struggle to make sure they understand the respective merits of their choices and to fully utilize the menu of benefits before them. Nearly 72% of employees from a recent poll remarked that they would like to see their benefits increase, but a dismal 12% actually visit their benefits portal more than twice in a given year.  This is why, as more workers are enraptured by hybrid work and are laying fresh eyes on their health benefits, this year’s OE will be a launching point of employee engagement. To be successful, you’ll need to take into account the lessons you learned from the last virtual OE, like keeping language simple and inviting, introducing more flexibility, and, most importantly, keep the conversation going after OE ends.  


Communication will be key.

In this year’s Open Enrollment. Deborah Oster with Flimp Communications share some insight they’ve found this season, as well as the results of a thorough case study. “Benefits are integral to employee retention and recruiting,” Oster says, and as “more organizations are expanding their benefits offerings...and email inboxes are more cluttered, communication is crucial.” Flimp also notes that “clients are creating more on-demand content” which is paired with the growing use of mobile phones for viewing content that would usually be told in a meeting. In addition, Flimp has also found that videos and QR codes have become popular with a younger workforce.  


This is nothing that you didn’t expect but take Flimp’s work as a confirmation: without assertive and repetitive communication, the information you want to get to your employees may very well be lost on them.  


Springboard Benefits also offers some information about this topic, through the specific lens of the hybrid workforce. “I would say that the number one thing we see is EMAIL overload,” Amy Parkman tells us, “We find employers who use multi-channel communication and have opportunities to have real conversations with employees have an increase in employee satisfaction. Communication efforts need to be intentional and personal and not be final in nature.” This might look like interactive formats.


Springboard has created a platform called hello iris! that “allows centralization of many unique data points from simple enrollment shopping, beneficiary management, plan designs and comparisons, new hire statuses, qualifying life event statuses and submissions, benefit communication, virtual benefit fairs, feedback tools, expert advice, live chat, etc..” And since hello iris! can be altered to fit the changing needs of the workforce, Springboard can keep the process simple and intuitive. 


Offerings will be intentional.

Daniel Corliss, President of DC Advisory, LLC, observes the shift in offerings and the intentionality with which HR leaders are approaching them. 


"Now more than ever before, we're noticing employers and plan stakeholders taking real interest in exploring  health plan financing strategies that are sustainable, ethical, and responsibly aligned with their growth and goals," says Corliss. "It's not just a "wow, that's really neat, let's look at it next year" and is now more often a "yes, this aligns with our principles, we need to do this now" conversation. 


Corliss continues, "Once the connection is made that health benefits are a business unit that needs to be managed just the same as any other P&L item, the interest and undivided attention it deserves is given." And this attention is being reflected in the plan designs showing up across progressive employer open enrollment documents across the country.


Couple this with a recent LinkedIn report highlighting the top three reasons Millennials were leaving their jobs, including their hunger for more benefits. The challenge this open enrollment season can be culled down to the communication you use and the intentionality with which you approach the plan. Address those, and you'll be on the path to a promising open enrollment. After all, when employees choose wisely, your whole company has a better chance of success. 




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